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Dakar 2019 : Vladimir Chagin, un Team Manager heureux chez Kamaz

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For English Speakers :

Le Mag Sport Auto : Hi Vladimir. What review can you make of the race?
Vladimir Chagin : I am happy that we have withstood the rivalry, which was especially serious this year. An utterly difficult route, impassable quicksand, hot air, the temperature of which reached 45 degrees, engine overheating – everything seemed to be against us. During the race, it became clear that the one who would get stuck less would get the best result. And they got stuck and fell. The winner Eduard Nikolaev didn’t avoid it either. But both, his crew and the crew of Sotnikov, stood out, proving their superiority to the sports world. And the fact, that less than 30 percent of the trucks finished, only speaks volumes. People sometimes ask me: given that our team wins most victories, doesn’t it decrease the interest in the race of our rivals, doesn’t it cause them any understandable irritation. In such cases, I answer: we all start the race from scratch, however, not only the vehicles win, but also the character of the racers. And ours strengthen for years of the most difficult, persistent training. And then, probably, we are more determined to win than others. When world-known companies in these competitions, such as the German MERCEDES and MAN, the Czech TATRA, the Italian IVECO and others are left behind KAMAZ, it gives us nothing but pride.
What did you think of this year’s edition, 100% Peruvian?
It was shorter in kilometers and days, but longer in terms of nerves — in terms of the amount of time when I had to literally “turn the inside out”. I can’t describe this feeling. We faced with situations that were not similar to anything that had been before. All could see it. It was necessary to react correctly and quickly to everything, to communicate with the organizers, sports commissars, with the team, with specialists in technical and sports terms, with the crews. This Dakar will be remembered just for that. But I am glad that everything ended well, although we had lost half of the team. I do not remember this lately. The strategy was built for four crews, and only two remained. Nevertheless – well done: they have coped with it.

LMSA : A victory for the KAMAZ-master’s 30 years, the goal is achieved or did you want a 1-2-3’s KAMAZ?
VC : We always aim for the highest result. Dakar-2019 will be remembered for its extreme complexity. All this time we felt a huge responsibility to the Russian fans, partners of the team. The keen struggle kept everyone on tenterhooks until the last day of the race. For us it was important to prove the advantage of the Russian technology and our motorsport school. It is especially pleasant that we managed to gain this victory in the year of the fiftieth anniversary of KAMAZ plant. We are honored to carry our flag and promote the brand of the plant.

LMSA : Can you tell us more about your truck, the Kamaz 43509?
VC : At the start in South America four brand new Russian race trucks were declared. Due to changes in the Dakar regulations, limiting the maximum volume of engines in the truck category to 13 litres since 2019, the team actually had to redesign a new truck, which became the carrier of the latest developments, modern sports technologies and a 30-year team experience in off-road rallies. The new truck, which was released in May 2018 and received index KAMAZ-43509, has inline-six engine. This basically determined the significant changes in the truck design. On 2 trucks automatic gear-boxes were installed. Externally, the new KAMAZ differs from the previous generation of race trucks in its modern aggressive design, chopped and wedgeshaped forms. Apart from that, in honor of the 30th anniversary of KAMAZ-master, the new team truck is presented in a new color, designed to emphasize the technological effectiveness of the new sports line and to mark the development on trend of modern technologies.

LMSA : In Russia, how is the Dakar followed? Is your team a national pride?
VC : The team has a huge number of fans. This is a huge responsibility not to disappoint expectations of fans and show a decent performance.

LMSA : Vladimir, you stopped driving after the Dakar 2011, is it something that you miss? Can we hope to see you drive again on a race?
VC : It seems to me that the time when I was a driver is already in the past life. Now I have other goals, other tasks and guidelines. I simply have no time to return mentally to the early life. Moreover, there are people to do this job. I realize that I will be much more useful to our team and Russian motor sport in a different capacity.

LMSA : What are your tasks as KAMAZ-master Team Manager? Is it more stressful to be a driver or a Team Manager on the Dakar?
VC : My task is to work with the team, count finances, plan them, keep track of expenses, communicate with partners. Participation in designing trucks – it began a long time ago historically, when I still was a mechanic in the crew. I participate with our design engineers in technical meetings, take part in decision of some technical features of the truck design.
I like the work I am doing now. It is important for me to pass the experience to the younger generation. I enjoy the victories of my charges even more than before – my own ones.

LMSA : You’re a part of these drivers who contested the Dakar in Africa and in South America. Which one do you prefer and why?
VC : There are no races that like alike – whether it is the rally-raid Dakar in Africa, the official Dakar in America or the Silk Way Rally. Each race has its own peculiarities, and the contestants are looking forward to them.
I think, that having moved to America, Dakar did not lose anything. The first year, I remember, everyone was nostalgic, they said that it was better in Africa.
Argentina, Chile, Peru are countries, well-suited for Dakar. Relief, landscape, the terrain itself is very well-suited for this. The same dunes, the same stones, the same desert. Even the climate is more severe. As in South America it is summer in January, the temperature is 10–15 degrees higher than in Africa. Well, and the population is very friendly. Argentinians, Chileans and Peruvians are always ready to sincerely help contestants if they ask them for assistance.

LMSA : If you could contest any other sport, which one would it be?
VC : There was a period when I was very interested in hockey. For five or six years I almost completely left technology. To be precise, I continued to ride a moped, gradually I learned to drive a car, but all my thoughts were about hockey. At the age of 14 I returned to motor sport, I do not even remember how or why. Apparently, because it is really mine. Though I still love hockey, a few years ago I even went to play in our KAMAZ team.

A huge thanks to Vladimir Chagin and the Kamaz’s team.

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